QUESTION: My question is about engaging candidates, motivating them to actually get on the phone and have a conversation. In 2020 I was working retained and having a similarly difficult time. I thought people were just too distracted with COVID, setting up new workspaces in their homes, and wanted stability. Plus, I had to adjust to not calling work offices, where no one was, and finding cell numbers, but still, in 2021, people are getting too many calls, filtering out emails, very difficult to earn these candidates’ conversation times. I think this speaks some to narrowing my niche, database management, but also there maybe more. What are your comments?  – Carol

ANSWER: This is a great question. I found where our clients are having the most success is when they are the vaguest. Nothing works all the time, and nothing does not work all the time. But where I see most recruiters shoving bullet points about an opportunity in front of a candidate, they have no information on. Hey, email, text, voicemail, whatever, working on this assignment, a growing company, la, la, la, all these wonderful things. That works sometimes, and it works a lot less now, as you talked about than it did before.  

On the flip side, we have modified everything that worked for me with our clients because my clients are my lab now. We hear one strategy working with candidates is just opening up the dialogue. I have no idea what is going on in your career. I want to see if you are open to hearing about something potentially stronger than what you might have right now. This type of dialogue is a technique that I used when on a desk.

This question could be in email, text, Inmail, voicemail, or any combination of these mediums. People get back to you because they are intrigued. They are not sitting there evaluating a job that probably sounds like the one they are already doing. It is almost like a fishing lure, and you just want to get a bite. You’re not even ready to set the hook.  

They will usually respond Yes, tell me more about it. Let’s say it is an email. Your response says you are happy to share a link to your calendar for a five to ten-minute exploratory conversation.  

First, when I get the person on the phone, I never tell them about the opportunity right away. If they demand that I tell them about the opportunity, I let them go. Did I lose some candidates, or did clients lose some candidates? Maybe. But we got far more great candidates because if they are going to say “I do not have time for this, tell me about the opening,” and when I buckled and told them about the opportunity, most times they will tell me that is not what they are looking for. The obvious follow-up question is, “What are you looking for?” In these instances, they will say, “I do not have time to tell you.” That response means they are tire kickers and probably not looking anyway.  

When you get the candidate on the phone, let them know that you are happy to tell them about the opportunity, but first, you want to know more about them. You can say: There is no such thing as a perfect company. There is no such thing as a perfect opportunity. If you had to describe the minor imperfections or challenges you have with your current company or in your current role, what would some of those be? The question is not, are you unhappy?  

Minor imperfections and challenges exist in every position and organization because there is no such thing as a perfect anything. They might come up with something trivial, and you can ask if that is all. They may say, yes, that if they could only fix one thing, it would be the ability to start work at 8:30 instead of 8:00, but everything else they love, that person will not move. But they might say the company makes a pretty good product, but they are frustrated with falling behind a couple of our competitors and are not sure the company is putting enough money into research and development. 

From here, you can ask: How is that going to affect you? Once they answer, you can continue to dig for other things. Eventually, the conversation develops into more than a trivial issue with the organization.  

The point of your question is it is harder to engage. I would challenge you to switch your technique to create more intrigue on the front end and be persistent. The rule I have with my clients is seven attempts over three weeks using numerous forms of communication –  meaning phone, voicemail, text, email, or Inmail. And do not say, I sent you an email last week. I got those emails from people I do not know all the time, and I delete them before I even read it because you sent me an email, and I do not know your name, and I did not reply. I do not want to read the message. Just send the same message.  

Hey, Mary, Are you open to hearing about something potentially stronger than your current situation?  Thoughts?  Mike  

You can copy and paste and send that message 100 times.  Great question. Thank you so much.  

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